Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

Garden Ornament

1914, cast c.1964

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 349 x 279 x 279 mm, 21.2 kg
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Kettle's Yard Collection Cambridge 1966
Reference
T00839

Display caption

In the spring of 1914 Gaudier-Brzeska received a commission to carve two stone vases or garden ornaments for the home of General Sir Ian and Lady Hamilton at 1 Hyde Park Gardens, London. This commission came through the Omega Workshops, the decorative arts and design firm founded by the artist and critic Roger Fry. However, by August 1914 Gaudier-Brzeska had left Britain to fight in the French army, so the stone vases were never carved. It is believed that this bronze, and its companion, were related to the Hamilton commission. This work is composed of three pairs of vestigial arm-like forms, with crude human faces inscribed into the outer planes of the arms.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska 1891–1915

T00839 Garden Ornament 1914

Not inscribed.
Bronze, 13¾ x 11 x 11 (35 x 28 x 28).
Presented by the Kettle’s Yard Collection, Cambridge 1966.

No. 5 in an edition of nine casts made by H. S. Ede from the original plaster in the Kettle’s Yard Collection, Cambridge. This is the companion piece to T00365 (and its bronze cast T00403). In August or September 1914 Gaudier made this pair of garden ornaments in plaster, preparatory to carving them in stone as a commission, through the Omega Workshops, from Lady Hamilton. They are the ‘Garden Vases’ of Ede’s Supplementary list of Gaudier’s works, 1930, which follows Gaudier’s own list in the 1930 edition of Ede’s Life. Gaudier found the stone too hard to carve and the carvings were left barely commenced at his Putney studio on his second and final departure for the front in September (see Pound, op. cit., p. 57, and Brodzky, op. cit., pp. 134–137).

The present garden ornament is just over half as high as T00365, by contrast with which it is an abstract design, although the motif of arms supporting a bowl above is loosely common to both. One human or animal face is inscribed at the extreme outer point or ‘elbow’ of each of the six handles.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1966–1967, London 1967.

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